Death Penalty Is Alive And Well In Forsyth County

Virginia just executed William Morva. Morva killed a hospital security guard and a Montgomery County deputy in 2006. The facts of Morva’s crimes are not in dispute. But there is extensive evidence that William Morva suffered from delusion disorder. Delusion disorder is a serious psychiatric disorder similar to paranoid schizophrenia.

Morva’s former friends and family members describe Morva as an outgoing young man who began to have debilitating bouts of mental illness in his late teens. The State of Virginia wasn’t moved by the fact that Morva was completely out of his mind when he killed two men in a desperate attempt to escape from a prison that he thought was trying to kill him.

No matter whether there are circumstances that make a murderer sympathetic to the public or not, the state shouldn’t be in the business of killing. A nation of laws shouldn’t concern itself with carrying out executions. It’s morally wrong and studies show that it doesn’t deter crime.

The death penalty doesn’t have the popularity that it once did. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty popular here in the U.S. And it is very popular within the Forsyth County D.A.’s Office. Of the 146 men and women currently on North Carolina’s Death Row, 15 were convicted in Forsyth County.

The last person that the Forsyth County D.A. sent to death row was Juan Carlos Rodriguez in 2014. Rodriguez committed a particularly heinous crime. He killed and dismembered his wife.  Earlier in the week, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that Forsyth County D.A. Jim O’Neill had decided to pursue the death penalty against Charles Thomas Stacks. It appears that Stacks (who deserves the presumption of innocence) killed a toddler with his bare hands.

Stacks is accused of a terrible crime. But there is no evidence that pursuing the death penalty will make children in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County any safer. Our state currently has a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. North Carolina hasn’t carried out an execution in over 10 years. In that time 9 death row inmates have died of natural causes awaiting execution.

Current Status of North Carolina’s Death Penalty

Approximately 150 people are on North Carolina’s death row. However, no one has been executed since 2006, when concerns about the state’s lethal injection procedure led to an effective moratorium. Since then, four innocent men have been released from death row, the State Bureau of Investigation admitted to falsifying evidence in dozens of trials, and a judge found evidence of statewide racial bias in the use of the death penalty. Due to pending litigation about racial bias and lethal injection, executions remain on hold indefinitely.    –

The death penalty is morally objectionable for a number of reasons. It is a cruel and unreasonable punishment that is used disproportionately against the poor and minorities. It’s also error prone. There are cases, like Troy Davis’ where there is little doubt that an innocent man was executed. The jury in Darryl Hunt’s first trail came within one vote of sending Darryl Hunt to death row.

The Forsyth County D.A. should concern himself with the pursuit of justice, examining and potentially overturning wrongful convictions in Forsyth County and get out of the business of sending defendants to their deaths.


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